Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Goodbye Dear Ruby"

The SF Chronicle reported the known facts.

A transgender sex worker found strangled last week near Interstate 280 in Potrero Hill was identified Thursday as a 27-year-old Nicaraguan immigrant.

Ruby Ordenana, also known as Ruby Rodriguez, was last seen in the Tenderloin the day before the slaying ... "She was fighting a lot of battles,'' [Alexandra] Byerly, [a project coordinator for EL-LA, a local nonprofit group] said. "She was fighting drug addiction, immigration status. There were a lot of issues going on around her. ... We were all worried about her, but she had a lot of people backing her up.''

Last night, an extraordinarily moving, angry, anxious and defiant speakout at 24th Street and Mission marked her murder and remembered her life. I didn't know Ruby, but I can share these images from her memorial.

Assembyman Mark Leno

Police Commissioner Theresa Sparks

Tina D'Elia from Community United against Violence (CUAV)


Staff of CUAV passed out a frightening fact sheet -- three other violent deaths of transgendered women have been reported to the San Francisco agency over the last year.

Alfred/Ariana Dibble was a forty-something biological male who had both a male and a female identity. On June 22, 2006, Alfred/Ariana was discovered beaten, unconscious and hidden in the bushes of a the quiet San Francisco Stockton neighborhood...

On November 11, 2006, Daxi Arredondo was found dead by the SFPD at a hotel in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Ms. Arredondo was a 35 year old transsexual identified bi-racial Mexican-African American woman. It is suspected that Ms. Arredondo's death is the result of a pick-up crime....

On November 19, 2006, Thalia Sandoval, a 27 year old transgender Latina was stabbed to death in her home in Antioch, CA. ...Prior to her death, Ms. Sandoval had met the alleged suspect at a bar....

While recently visiting Nicaragua we toured the Museo de Leyendas y Tradiciones (Museum of Myths and Legends) in Leon. Various figures of folklore, the sort used to scare children, are displayed as life size mannequins. There's a headless priest and a weeping woman who was reputed to have betrayed her indigenous people to the Spanish conquerors. And there is this:

The figure is called "Toma tu teta!" ("Come get some titty!"). She is said to represent a memory of an historical person, an inter-sexed person. Unlike most inter-sexed persons (the one baby in 1500 or so who is born with the physical gender characteristics of both sexes) she neither died in infancy nor was subjected to gender reassignment surgery -- presumably unavailable in a 19th century Nicaraguan town. She grew to adulthood, someone to laugh at, abuse, shame. Eventually, driven mad, she would approach the men of the town, thrusting out her breast at them -- or so the legend says.

The folks mourning Ruby yesterday want us all to know, there is another way. There has to be.


Edward Murray said...

Hi. I found you by way of MadPriest. For some reason, every time I look at this it brings tears to my eyes. Your pictures are very compelling indeed. I even linked to this story from my church's Lenten blog. Keep up the good work, and thank you.

Edward Murray said...

P.S. Here's the link, if you're interested:

Anonymous said...

JaninSanFran: thank you for covering this tragedy. Those are great photos too. I'm working on a video for Equality California and I would love to use that photo of Theresa Sparks. Do you own that or is it a photo from the Chron? Can you email me at Sorry, I know this is not the most appropriate way to contact you but I couldn't find a direct email. Thanks for whatever you can do.

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